You know how sometimes you have plans to do something that's really nothing special yet you still find yourself just soooo ready to get out there and do it? Well that's how I was feeling about the little ride I'd planned for today. Just a little lunch ride, down towards the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, on some roads that are not particularly spectacular but totally representative of the area between Houston and the Gulf.
I've dubbed this route the Cotton Field Tour. It's one I am in the mood to do every once in a while because it's pretty in its own unique way. It forces the wayward traveler to pay attention and really look for the subtle beauty. Oh, it's there, alright. It just doesn't jump right out at you like the obvious beauty of other regions of the USA.
Last time I rode this route, friend Mike and I spied a very newborn calf, still slick and wet from birth, wobbling next to its mom in a pasture near Boling.
Today there were no newborn calves, but there were plenty of freshly plowed cotton fields, newly harvested and ready for their winter's rest, their rich dark brown furrows running straight to the horizon. The shoulders of these tiny little county roads were white with cotton bolls, like small patches of snow on a January-thaw-kind of day in the north. Large bales of cotton sat in some of the fields, waiting to be picked up and taken to the gins.
It was a circuitous route, totally on purpose, totally to avoid anything larger than an FM road and preferably on a county road like CR 5 which starts and ends with a couple of nice crooks in the road, but runs straight as an arrow between these crooks. The route took me through tiny little towns like Danciger and Boling and Magnet. These are tantalizing little towns that sit one block off the roadway, tempting me to come back and explore a bit more another time.
As I approached Boling, what looked like large granite boulders appeared to be dotting the pastures on both sides of the roadway. But there is no granite and there are no boulders in this part of the state. The mystery was solved as I grew nearer and saw that what appeared as gray boulders were actually Brahman cattle - hundreds of them - on the V8 Ranch, a large Brahman breeding ranch in Boling.
One of the singular things I love about this route are the giant live oak trees that sit alone at nice intervals on the open pastures. These are huge... easily century trees. And because they live unmolested and free from human interference, they are all beautifully symmetrical. Which of course means they're enormously magestic, lording over their solitary and special spots out in the grazing acreage, allowed to rule over the landscape, enjoy plentiful sunshine and sufficient rain water.
Lunch at K-2 Steakhouse: Seafood Duo for me (catfish and Matagorda Bay oysters) and grilled shrimp for friend Keith. Then it was time to continue on our circuitous route toward home. But not before stopping along the way for an ice cream.